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Broad Museum
Broad Brings New Art and Style
To Downtown LA

Story & photographs by Greg Aragon

ove over a little bit Walt Disney Concert Hall; there is a new iconic building and tourist attraction in Downtown Los Angeles and it is one awesome piece of work. Costing about $140 million to build, The Broad contemporary art museum is a giant honeycomb-looking structure housing 2,000 masterpieces from around the world.

The mega-gallery, which opened to the public on September 20, was developed by philanthropists and longtime art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad. "We built this collection and this museum so that contemporary art could be accessible to all," says Eli Broad.

The Broad museum at night
The Broad museum is a giant honeycomb-looking structure housing 2,000 masterpieces from around the world (picture courtesy of The Broad)

Located on Grand Avenue, in the art and cultural center of LA, The Broad’s unique and innovative design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro along with Gensler, rivals the shimmering, wavy architecture of it neighbor, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was created by Frank Gheary.

"We wanted something that would not clash with Walt Disney Concert Hall, but we didn't want it to be anonymous either and we found just what we were looking for in the design," said Eli Broad, when construction on the project began two years ago.

personalities celebrate construction of The Broad
(left to right) Architect Elizabeth Diller; Joanne Heyler director and curator of The Broad; Philanthropist Eli Broad; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti celebrate construction of the new museum

What the architect created was a unique, three-story "vault-and-veil" design, with a strong, concrete and glass base surrounded by a flowing, honeycomb-shaped exterior component. With this style, the museum contrasts Disney's shiny and smooth metallic finish by being porous and brittle and bringing in lots of natural light.

The exterior "veil" of the building is a structural exoskeleton comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel that drape over The Broad and appear to lift up at two corners to expose street-level entrances. A highlight of the honeycomb exterior is the "oculus," located in the center of the building on the Grand Avenue side. This architectural feature is a huge, curved indentation in the side of the building, making it look like it was hit by a giant golf ball.

105-ft. escalator at The Broad
Once the public enters The Broad they are transported upward by a 105-ft escalator (picture courtesy of The Broad)

The 120,000-sq-ft, three-story museum building houses nearly the entire Broad collection, while providing 15,000 sq-ft of exhibition space on the ground floor and 35,000 sq-ft of column-free space on the third floor, with filtered natural light from skylights and windows.

The "vault" component of the building is the heart of the interior, where the museum stores its overflow of world-class art. The heavy, opaque volume of the "vault" is always in view, hovering midway in the building. Its carved underside shapes the lobby below and the public circulation routes.

Once the public enters The Broad from the street level, they are transported upward by a 105-ft escalator, tunneling through the vault toward the light above to arrive onto the third-floor gallery. Visitors then descend through the vault via a winding stair that offers glimpses into the vast holdings of the collection through overlook windows into storage areas.

"Our goal has been to honor the responsibilities of the museum as a collecting institution by making the curatorial functions visible front and center," says Elizabeth Diller, principal-in-charge of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "The porous exoskeleton that we call the veil admits filtered natural daylight, channeling light into the public spaces and galleries."

fiberglass reinforced concrete panels of The Broad
The exterior "veil" of the building is a structural exoskeleton comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels (picture courtesy of The Broad)

Besides the art inside the building, the construction of the new museum also brought improvements to the streetscape on Grand Avenue and the construction of public amenities such as a 24,000-sq-ft public plaza, landscaped with a grove of 100-year-old Barouni olive trees and a tilted lawn; a new mid-block crosswalk and planted median, connecting The Broad on the west side of Grand Avenue with MOCA and the Colburn School on the east; and a pair of wide stairs and an elevator connecting the plaza with the planned Hope Street Metro Regional Connector Rail station at 2nd Street.

At the western end of the plaza will be Otium, a new free-standing restaurant developed by Bill Chait and Chef Timothy Hollingsworth that will open later this fall. The Broad has also constructed a 155,000-sq-ft, three-story, 344-space, subterranean parking garage.

The Broad is located at is located at 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012. For more information on visiting, call 213-232-6200 or visit

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Hi Greg,

It's not a forest of banyan trees in Lahaina by the harbor. It's one huge tree, about 140 years old. It's an important landmark of Lahaina, and one of our favorite views.We always stay at the Pioneer Inn, overlooking the harbor and the banyan tree. Every evening thousands of mynah birds fly into the tree, chattering and fluttering until they settle down for the night. Otherwise, great article.

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